Cats has the feel of a heavily sexualized disjointed fever dream that’s destined to haunt the darkest corners of the internet rather than entertain audiences other than perhaps furries. This highly stylized and big-budgeted “adaptation” (and we use those words loosely) amount to nothing more than fuel to twist and torment your imagination. Tom Hooper would have been the last director I’d have selected to take this task on, and the final product proves my point. The film is bewildering and befuddling, which says tons because most people who will buy a ticket to see Cats will likely have some background knowledge on the show. Some might say that this is a direct adaptation of the show, and I would argue that direct adaptations of musicals don’t work. Chicago and Les Mis had at least some connective tissue between each number, which gave the audience a moment to breathe and process what was occurring.
The design of the actual characters is so off-putting that it instantly snapped the audience out of this universe Hooper was trying to craft and brought to this puzzling reality. I understand that the CGI cat fur was meant to enhance the realism of the piece to anyone trying to get into this mess, but it served to immediately pull the audience out of the fantasy.
Speaking of this mess, the runtime of the movie is one hour and 40 minutes, which in reality, felt more like four hours. If anything ever symbolized what a cinematic slog truly is, this would be it.
An argument could be made that this film is more for “theater” geeks or hardcore cinephiles. First off, “theater” geeks are going to be infuriated by how Hooper bastardized the show, the sound mix, the set design, the “writing,” and if we are honest… pretty much everything from the stage show. Secondly, I indeed challenge any cinephile to find four individual elements of the film that legitimately deserve praise. Go on… I’ll wait.
It’s times like these that we search for something positive to include in a review, but with Cats, it’s challenging. What we are dealing with here is the cinematic equivalent of the Hindenberg. Cats is so devoid of entertainment that the film makes Ishtar look iconic.
Overall, Cats is every bit the disaster we were anticipating and likely hold the same status as The Room for years to come.